Atkinson F.


204650 Private F. Atkinson, 10th Battalion, the Yorkshire (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own) Regiment was killed in action 4 October 1917 and is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial. [1] He was 33 years old and is commemorated on the Butterknowle War Memorial and the memorial plaques in St. John the Evangelist Church, Lynesack and Butterknowle Community Centre, previously located within Butterknowle Methodist Church.

Family Details

Fred Atkinson was born 1884 [2] at Shildon, Co. Durham, the son of Trueman and Ann Atkinson.  There were at least 4 children:

  • Ada bc.1873 at Helmsley, North Yorkshire
  • Herbert bc.1875 at Stokesley, North Yorkshire
  • Emma bc.1877 at Shildon, Co. Durham
  • Fred born 1884 at Shildon [3]

In 1891, the family lived at 16 Cradock Street, Bishop Auckland and Fred’s father, Trueman worked as a shoemaker.  7 year old Fred was still at school. [4] By 1901 the family lived at Foster Hill in the Parish of Lynesack & Softley where 59 year old Trueman worked as a shoemaker for the Cooperative Society.  There was a Branch in Butterknowle.  16 year old Fred worked as an ironmongers’ apprentice at the Cooperative.[5]  Fred Atkinson was married to Hilda M. and they had a child.  Hilda received 204650 Private Fred Atkinson’s effects. [6]  A financial matter was subject to probate.  Fred and Mary Hilda Atkinson lived at 6 Folly View, Butterknowle and his effects went to his widow, Mary Hilda.[7] The 1911 census return for Fred Atkinson and his marriage have not been located.

Service Details

The service record of Fred Atkinson has not been traced and the above soldier is the most likely to be the Fred Atkinson commemorated at Butterknowle.[8]

The 10th (Service) Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment, commonly known as “The Green Howards” was formed at Richmond, North Yorkshire as part of K3, Kitchener’s New Army and came under the orders of the 62nd Brigade, 21st Division.  In September 1915 the Division landed at Boulogne, France and served on the Western front until the battalion was disbanded February 1918.[9]  The 62nd Brigade comprised the following units:

  • 12th, the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 13th, the Northumberland Fusiliers merged into 12th Bn., in August 1917, renamed 12/13th Bn.
  • 8th, the East Yorkshire Regiment left November 1915
  • 10th, the Yorkshire Regiment disbanded February 1918
  • 1st, the Lincolnshire Regiment joined November 1915
  • 62nd Machine Gun Company joined March 1916 left to move into 21st MG Battalion February 1918
  • 62nd trench Mortar Battery joined June 1916
  • 3/4th the Queen’s joined August 1917 disbanded February 1918
  • 2nd, the Lincolnshire Regiment joined February 1918

The Division served on the Western Front throughout the war taking part in many actions including the Battle of Loos in 1915, various phases of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, the Arras Offensive in 1917 and various phases of the Third Battle of Ypres 1917. [10]

Private F. Atkinson did not enter France until after 31 December 1915 [11] probably as a draft in preparation for the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916 or at a later date as a draft to replace casualties.  The exact date he enlisted and entered France is unknown.  Private F. Atkinson was killed in action 4 October 1917.[12]  The 21st Division was part of the X Corps, Second Army which took part in the Battle of Broodseinde, a phase of the Third Battle of Ypres. [13]

Battle of Broodseinde: a summary

It was a large operation involving 12 Divisions attacking simultaneously along a 10kms front.  In the centre I and II Anzac Corps went forward side by side capturing the village of Broodseinde.  The attack was executed in the same manner as Menin Road Ridge (20-25 September) and Polygon Wood (26-27 September).  The troops’ objectives were only 1 or 2 kilometres from the start line and the advance was preceded by a massive artillery bombardment.  Both sides were planning an attack and when the British bombardment began it caught a number of German units out in the open preparing for their own attack including the 4th Guard and 19th Reserve Divisions.  The infantry then followed a creeping barrage which was timed to arrive at the German trenches just before the infantry did.  Once again machine-gun emplacement in the form of concrete “pillboxes” delayed but did not stop the advance.  The Germans suffered about 10,000 casualties and lost 5,000 men prisoners.  The Australians suffered 6,432 casualties, New Zealanders 892 and the British about 300.

Rain then made the battlefield extremely difficult and artillery was unable to move forward so the barrage for the next planned attack, the Battle of Poelcapelle, 9 October was ineffective.  The Canadians took Passchendaele 6 November 1917 bringing to an end the Third Battle of Ypres.  [14]

10/Yorkshire Battalion: in action [15]

1 October: the total strength of the 10/Green Howards was 37 officers and 966 non-commissioned officers and men with a fighting strength of 30 officers and 897 other ranks.

To the right of the X Corps was the 37th Division and to the left was the I Australian Corps.  The disposition of the X Corps was, from right to left, the 5th Division, the 21st in the centre then the 7th Division facing Polderhoek, Reutel and Noordhemhoek respectively.  At midnight, 3 October, D Company reached Clapham Junction, B, C and A Companies followed.  The front line companies, B and D went forward to Glencorse Wood where they came under a very heavy artillery barrage and as a result lost touch with 12/13th Northumberland Fusiliers.  A and C Companies followed and were met with the same heavy fire.  The whole of 10/Green Howards were near Black Watch Corner under heavy shell fire but reached their “jumping off” place by 5.15am.  Zero hour was 6.00am.  As a consequence of 1/Lincolns not being in their correct position due to the bombardment, 10/Green Howards became the reserve battalion and held a line to the front of Polygon Wood.  The Germans put down another intense barrage at zero hour.  The battalion had been under shell fire from 9pm on the 3rd to 6am on the 4th and had suffered serious losses.  In the evening, a move forward was made to a position near the old front line in Juniper Trench.  Consolidation was put in hand.  For the whole of the 5th 6th and 7th October, the battalion held the position under severe artillery fire and both the 62nd and 64th Brigades suffered many casualties.  Just before midnight 7 October, the battalion was relieved and moved back to Zillebeke Lake.

1 officer and 74 other ranks were killed, while 10 officers and 249 NCOs and men were wounded.

Later research records that between 1 and 10 October 1917, 10/Green Howards lost 1 officer and 98 other ranks killed in action or died of wounds, the officer and 62 other ranks, including 204650 Private F. Atkinson, were killed in action 4 October. [16]

204650 Private F. Atkinson was awarded the British War and Victory medals.[17]


Private F. Atkinson has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.  The Tyne Cot Cemetery is located 9 kilometres north east of Ypres, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.  The Memorial to the Missing is one of 4 memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient which stretched from Langermarck in the north to Ploegsteert Wood in the south.  The Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing forms the north-eastern boundary of the Tyne Cot Cemetery and bears the names of almost 35,000 officers and men whose graves are unknown.  The memorial was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and was unveiled in July 1927. [18]

Private F. Atkinson is also commemorated on the Butterknowle War Memorial and the memorial plaques located in St. John the Evangelist Church, Lynesack and the Butterknowle Village Hall, previously in the Butterknowle Methodist Church.

In Memoriam

The Auckland & County Chronicle Thursday 3rd October 1918

“Roll of Honour: In Memoriam: Atkinson; in memory of my dear husband Pte. F. Atkinson who was killed in action on October 4th 1917, ever remembered by his loving wife and son.

The sunshine from our home is gone

The voice we loved is still

The hand that always helped us on

Now lies in death’s cold chill

He lives with us in memory

And will for evermore”


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.309 Auckland 1884Q2

[3] 1891 & 1901 census records

[4] 1891 census

[5] 1901 census

[6] UK Army Registers of Soldiers Effects 1901-1929

[7] England & Wales National Probate Calendar Index of Wills & Administration 1858-1966

[8] Soldiers Died in the Great War record that 204650 Private F. Atkinson was born at Shildon and resided at Butterknowle.  Note: The Green Howards Museum at Richmond, North Yorkshire should be contacted to examine any records held by the museum.



[11] Medal Roll card index

[12] CWGC


[14] &

[15] “The Green Howards in the Great War” Colonel H.C. Wylly 1926 p.345-346

[16] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[17] Medal Roll card index

[18] CWGC





ATKINSON F. Inscription Tyne Cot Memorial

Tyne Cot Memorial

Butterknowle Methodist Church

Methodist Church

One thought on “Atkinson F.

  1. Pingback: BUTTERKNOWLE | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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